Education vacancies: No board at National Council for Special Education since last year

The National Council for Special Education has had no board since the previous 13-member board’s term ended at the end of last year.

The 13 vacancies, which are awaiting appointments by Education Minister Richard Bruton, are mostly based on nominees of various bodies, such as representatives of teachers, school managers, parents, and health services.

Two of the 12 ordinary board members must be selected from a shortlist of people who applied through the Public Appointments Service, one each to be nominated by Mr Bruton and Health Minister Simon Harris.

The Department of Education told the Irish Examiner last month it was awaiting a nominee from Mr Harris to complete the list which would then be sent to Mr Bruton for consideration.

The NCSE is a statutory body established under the 2004 Education for Persons with Special Educational Needs Act.As well as being responsible for the allocation of special needs assistants (SNAs) and resource teachers to schools, it acts as an important policy advisory body to the minister.

Last week, it published a report completed last year on the education of students with autism, recommending additional spending that could cost an extra €20m a year.

However, it remains limited in the resources it can allocate due to continuing government limits on the numbers of SNAs and special teachers.

Among several third-level colleges with board vacancies is Institute of Technology Tralee, which has been without a chairperson since July 2013.

Appointments of institute of technology chairs is the responsibility of the education minister.

But none has been appointed to IT Tralee by past ministers Ruairi Quinn, Jan O’Sullivan or by Mr Bruton for the last three years, since the role was vacated by Flan Garvey, a former Fianna Fáil councillor in Clare.

The chair of Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design & Technology has been empty since last August, and IT Sligo’s since May. The department said it is finalising the process to fill these vacancies, and a handful on governing bodies of Maynooth University and NUI Galway, by the end of summer.

The chairs of five other institutes of technology — Carlow, Cork, Dundalk, Galway-Mayo, and Tallaght — have become vacant in the past two months.

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